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10 Steps to Building a Culture of Content in Your Organization



Photo source: Graham Lavender on flickr.

Introduction

Note: This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

While Marketing is the voice of many organizations, a lot of subject matter experts reside elsewhere. They reside in Engineering, Product Management, Customer Support and Sales. Look at the last ten posts published on your blog. If more than half came from Marketing, then ask yourself why there aren’t more posts from the folks building, selling and servicing your products or services.

By extending the list of contributors on your blog, you present a broader range of perspectives and knowledge. At the same time, you create a stronger sense of trust from prospects and customers. They’ll respect and admire the collective expertise that your organization exhibits.

To make this happen, you’ll need to establish a culture of content in your organization. Here’s my 10-step plan to do just that.

1) Explain the Big Picture.

I tell my colleagues about the power of content and give examples, such as HubSpot and Marketo. I explain how those companies grew their businesses via content: ebooks, blog posts, SlideShares, white papers, etc. Next, I talk about personal branding and how important it is to be published online. If search engines don’t find you, then you don’t exist.

2) Gain Executive Buy-In.

It’s easy when you have executive buy-in from the start. It’s trickier when you don’t. Tell executives about other organizations in your space and show them how they used content to grow their business or cause. Employees take direction from above, so this step is crucial to gaining employee involvement.

3) Utilize Extrinsic Rewards.

For each blog post published, I reward employees with a $25 Amazon gift card. It’s a small token of appreciation for their effort. As employees publish more and move beyond the blog (to other forms of content), the extrinsic rewards are elevated.

Photo source: Richard Bao on flickr.

4) Reinforce Intrinsic Rewards.

Extrinsic rewards are important for establishing contributions early on, but they’re not sustainable over the long term. Intrinsic rewards come from the enjoyment and achievement sustained from the core activity performed. Once employees buy in to the intrinsic rewards (e.g. visibility and personal branding), they’ll contribute without the need for extrinsic rewards.

5) Convince Everyone They’re a Writer.

Photo source: Mike Licht on flickr.

“I don’t write well” is a comment I often hear. Not true. There’s a writer in everyone. And everyone has knowledge and expertise to share. Your job is to serve as mentor, coach and editor, to bring those words to life. I’ve given an employees an “outline template” to help them plan out their blog post. I then offer to write the first paragraph to get them started.

6) Look for Content Opportunities Everywhere.

My top source for blog post ideas is our company intranet. There, employees use an Activity Feed to post what they’re doing. I’ll chime in, “Sounds neat. How about writing a blog post about it?” As I chat with colleagues by the coffee machine, I also look for interesting stories, especially those involving customers.

7) Share Successes.

One of my colleagues landed a speaking appearance from her very first blog post. A regional user group discovered her blog post, found it interesting and invited her to speak at their next meeting. I was sure to tell that story to the entire company at the next “All Hands Meeting.” If there’s someone on the fence about participating, hearing successes like this may push them over the top.

8) Recognize Contributors.

I use this slide at company meetings. It contains the profile photo of every person who published a blog post. When I receive the first submission from some employees, they’ll comment that they wanted to have their face appear on this slide.

9) Find and Empower Evangelists.

You’ll find a few employees who jump on the “culture of content bandwagon.” Enable them to become evangelists for the cause. Show them your editorial calendar and ask them for suggestions. Let newbies know that they can lean on these evangelists for help, advice or tips.

10) Evangelize, Evangelize, Evangelize.

My colleagues are beginning to think that I’m addicted to content. And they’d be right. I consume a lot of content (OPB = other people’s blogs), which gives me ideas on how to better create our own content. As the facilitator for your organization’s culture of content, you’ll need to serve as principal evangelist. Find your ABE Lincoln = Always Be Evangelizing.

Conclusion

Whether you work for a commercial business or a non-profit, content can create wonders for your cause. It helps you get discovered and builds trust with customers and constituents. It’s hard to scale your content solely within Marketing. Establish and foster a culture of content and you all win.

For a look at our culture of content, have a look through the DNN blog.

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